Americans Honor Vets This Holiday; What About The Rest of the Year?

Several dozen veterans, their faces reflecting several decades of U-S military service gathered Monday at the Sun Valley Community Center for a barbecue luncheon in their honor.

There were flags and other displays around the room. Representatives of Senator Dean Heller and Rep. Mark Amodei read proclamations and the veterans and their families sat around tables and chatted..

This was the third year for this event, sponsored by the Sun Valley General Improvement District and Washoe County Senior Services.

It was just one of a number of celebrations, large and small, which have become common. We honor our veterans each year on this holiday, but do we remember them the rest of the year?

There are few complaints in this crowd and a lot of appreciation.

"We do a lot for veterans," says Vietnam era vet Oly Nelson. Nelson wears a hat that identifies him as a recipient of the Purple Heart. A former Army infantryman, he was wounded in action in the Mekong Delta.

Most like Nelson, quickly point out the good work of Reno's Veterans Administration Hospital. Some like Navy vet Richard Colliers even help out there.

He's not so sure as a country we do enough, however.

"Not as far as I'm concerned they don't. No, I'm sorry to say. There's a few but not very many. That's what hurts."

Still, others say it's getting better.

"i just feel like we're being recognized more now than we have been in the past," says Paul Gallo, a former Chief Petty Officer in the Navy and Merchant Marine and a rare World War II vet at this gathering.

James Jones, a former Marine wearing a cap that identifies him as a Korean War vet agrees.

"Riding the bus around town, I've had this hat on and people come up to me and say Thanks, Thanks for making our freedoms for us."

For some that recognition is as welcome as it is tardy. Nelson was one of the many from that war who returned to no parades and celebrations.

Does he still feel forgotten?

"Not today. I did years ago."


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